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For God and the CIA

For God and the CIA Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review May 2022 Title For God and the CIA
Author Stephen Rookes Publisher Helion
Published 2020 ISBN 9781913336240
Format 88 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95

Review

Stephen Rookes continues his spellbinding study of conflict in newly independent Congo with For God and the CIA – 52nd in Helion’s terrific “Africa@War” range.

Leveraging personal testimonies, government archives, and declassified documents, it’s nominally the saga of “Cuban Exile Forces in the Congo and Beyond, 1959-1967” – but with considerable contextual commentary.

Contents span seven chapters across 88 pages:

  • The Development of the United States Covert War Apparatus
  • How to Overthrow a Foreign Leader: Guatemala, 1954
  • From Guatemala to Cuba, 1961
  • From the Caribbean to the Congo
  • The Tools of Counterinsurgency
  • Cubans versus Cubans in the Congo
  • Mobuto, the Mercenary Revolt and the Makasi

Dozens of rare color and B&W photographs tincture text. Eight pages of superb color plates depict unit heraldry, ten aircraft, a patrol vessel, and three participants’ uniforms. And maps provide geographic perspective to coverage.

Sidebars, tables, and an acronym list further support the study. And a stout selected bibliography and helpful endnotes neatly conclude contents.

But historically astute readers might fairly consider Rookes’ background sections unnecessarily excessive – “errors of commission”, my dissertation advisor might say. And I frequently found myself mentally editing the first three or four chapters for brevity, focus, and relevance to the book’s central subject.

Watch for stray detail errors, too. English, for instance, doesn’t require apostrophes to form plurals – as in “Nazi’s”. Cuban MiG fighters never saw combat during the Bay of Pigs operation. And Sékou Touré hailed from Guinea – not from Mali.

Still, this volume perfectly complements Rookes’ previous Ripe For Rebellion – 51st in Helion’s “Africa@War” series. And I really enjoyed this slim survey of a much-neglected, much-politicized topic.

A personal coda: I’ve known several Cuban Bay of Pigs and Congo veterans. And their fierce devotion to freedom and liberty remains a beacon in my life.

Recommended!

With thanks to Casemate Publishing for the review copy!